With sales exceeding the 1000 mark the useful Caravan is a popular utility workhorse worldwide.
Design work for the Caravan dates back to the early eighties. First flight of a prototype occurred on December 9 1982 and certification was granted in October 1984. When production began the following year it became the first all new single engine turboprop powered aircraft to achieve production status.
The Caravan I has had a close association with US package freight specialist Federal Express (FedEx), on whose request Cessna especially developed two pure freight versions. The first of these was the 208A Cargomaster (40 delivered), the second was the stretched 208B Super Cargomaster (260 delivered). The first Super Cargomaster flew in 1986 and features a 1.22m (4ft) stretch and greater payload capacity, including an under fuselage cargo pannier. FedEx's aircraft lack cabin windows.
The 208B Grand Caravan first flew in 1990 and like the Super Cargomaster is a stretched version of the basic Caravan powered by a 505kW (675shp) PT6A-114. It can seat up to 14 passengers.
Announced at the 1997 NBAA convention, the 208-675 has replaced the basic 208. It combines the standard length airframe of the 208 with the more powerful PT6A-114 of the 208B.
Underbelly cargo pods, floats and skis are offered as options on the Caravan I family, and the type is easily converted from freight to passenger configurations.
A military/special missions version of the 208A, dubbed the U-27A, is also on offer. The Brazilian Air Force designation is C-98.
Soloy is offering a dual-engine conversion of the 208B, named Pathfinder 21. This version is powered by a 991kW (1329shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada/Soloy Dual Pac powerplant, consisting of two PT6D-114A engines driving a single propeller. Other distinguishing features of the Pathfinder 21 include a 72in cabin stretch behind the wing and a large integral cargo pod.
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